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Statement

Brennan Center Urges State Department to Abandon the Collection of Social Media and Other Data from Visa Applicants

The Brennan Center, joined by 56 other civil and human rights organizations, today submitted comments to the U.S. Department of State on its plan to collect additional information, such as social media identifiers, telephone numbers, and email addresses used in the past five years from U.S. visa applicants

Published: May 30, 2018

The under­signed organ­iz­a­tions write to urge the Depart­ment of State to with­draw the agency’s proposed inform­a­tion collec­tion under Public Notices 10260 and 10261. By notices published March 30, 2018, the Depart­ment of State proposed to ask visa applic­ants to provide social media iden­ti­fi­ers, tele­phone numbers, and email addresses used in the past five years, among other inform­a­tion. Propos­als by the federal govern­ment to use social media to make adverse visa determ­in­a­tions have been consist­ently opposed by privacy, civil liber­ties, civil rights, and other civil soci­ety groups. And the govern­ment’s own stud­ies have not produced evid­ence that social media screen­ing programs work.

The current proposed revi­sions will under­mine First Amend­ment rights of speech, expres­sion, and asso­ci­ation. The proposal, if imple­men­ted, will reveal private inform­a­tion about trav­el­ers that is irrel­ev­ant to their suit­ab­il­ity for entry to the United States, and will expose data about their famil­ies, friends and busi­ness asso­ci­ates in the U.S. Further, the context in which these policies are being developed – and the meth­ods used to exam­ine what is collec­ted – suggest that they will be imple­men­ted in ways that discrim­in­ate on the basis of national origin, reli­gion, or ideo­logy. Lastly, the data collec­tion will facil­it­ate the bulk mining and wide-ranging use of inform­a­tion about trav­el­ers and U.S. citizens, includ­ing for purposes beyond those artic­u­lated in the Public Notices, ampli­fy­ing the concerns above. These draw­backs are in exchange for spec­u­lat­ive national secur­ity bene­fits, espe­cially consid­er­ing the vanish­ingly small number of vetting fail­ures that have permit­ted foreign-born persons to commit terror­ist attacks on U.S. soil.

Sincerely,
 
18Mil­lion­Rising.org
ACCESS
Access Now
Amer­ican Friends Service Commit­tee
Amer­ican Immig­ra­tion Lawyers Asso­ci­ation
Amer­ican-Arab Anti-Discrim­in­a­tion Commit­tee
Amer­ic­ans United for Separ­a­tion of Church and State
Amnesty Inter­na­tional
Arab Amer­ican Insti­tute
Arch­iv­ists Roundtable of Metro­pol­itan New York (ART)
Asian Amer­ic­ans Advan­cing Justice
Asian Amer­ic­ans Advan­cing Justice – Atlanta
Asso­ci­ation of Research Librar­ies
Bren­nan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law
Center for Demo­cracy & Tech­no­logy
Center for Secur­ity, Race and Rights
The Center on Privacy and Tech­no­logy at Geor­getown Law
Chhaya Community Devel­op­ment Corpor­a­tion
Coali­tion for Humane Immig­rant Rights (CHIRLA)
Concerned Arch­iv­ists Alli­ance
Consumer Action
Coun­cil on Amer­ican-Islamic Rela­tions (CAIR)
Defend­ing Rights & Dissent
Elec­tronic Fron­tier Found­a­tion
Elec­tronic Privacy Inform­a­tion Center (EPIC)
Emgage Action
Free Press
Govern­ment Account­ab­il­ity Project
Govern­ment Inform­a­tion Watch
Human Rights First
Human Rights Watch
Immig­rant Legal Resource Center
Iranian Alli­ances Across Borders (IAAB)
Media Free­dom Found­a­tion/Project Censored
Mont­gomery County Civil Rights Coali­tion
MPower Change
Muslim Justice League
Muslim Public Affairs Coun­cil
NAACP
NAFSA: Asso­ci­ation of Inter­na­tional Educat­ors
National Asian Pacific Amer­ican Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)
National Hispanic Media Coali­tion
National Immig­rant Justice Center
National Immig­ra­tion Law Center
National Immig­ra­tion Project of the NLG
National Network for Arab Amer­ican Communit­ies
New Amer­ica’s Open Tech­no­logy Insti­tute
New York Immig­ra­tion Coali­tion
NIAC Action
Open MIC (Open Media and Inform­a­tion Compan­ies Initi­at­ive)
Patient Privacy Rights
Privacy Times
The Project on Govern­ment Over­sight
Sikh Amer­ican Legal Defense and Educa­tion Fund
United We Dream
Veter­ans for Amer­ican Ideals
World Privacy Forum

Bren­nan Center Urges State Depart­ment to Aban­don the Collec­tion of Social Media Inform­a­tion from Visa Appli… by The Bren­nan Center for Justice on Scribd